O LORD, from whom all good things do come; Grant to us thy humble servants, that by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same.  Through etc.

The fifth Sunday after Easter Day is commonly called Rogation Sunday.  ‘Rogation’ comes from the Latin verb, rogare, ‘to ask’.  The title is suggested by the opening of the gospel lesson, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.’ (Saint John 16:23)  Sermons on this day often have as their theme prayer:  and in particular ‘asking’ prayers, namely prayers of supplication and intercession.  This theme is touched upon briefly in the address of the collect to the ‘Lord, from whom all good things do come’.   

The collect in its petition, however, seems to concentrate more on the theme of the epistle (from Saint James 1), which contrasts a barren hearing of God’s word with a fruitful doing of his will.  The collect voices the Prayer Book’s regular theme:  that the rectification of our thinking and subsequent performance of that which our clarified intellect shows us to be good, depend on God’s grace.  If we are to ‘think those things that are good’ and to ‘perform the same’, then we require God’s ‘holy inspiration’ to begin the process and his ‘merciful guiding’ throughout that process to its conclusion.    

The implicit contrast between thinking and doing recalls again the Christian psychology implicit in last week’s collect and – as noted in the comments on that collect – in the Collect for Peace in Evensong.  The intellect perceives ‘things’ and distinguishes ‘good things’ from things that are not good.  The appetite desires the thing understood or some aspect of it (as one of ‘those things that are good’) or shrinks from it as bad.  The will chooses to pursue the thing or to avoid the thing, and then the agent will act or ‘perform’ according to the will’s choice.  Grace properly guides us at each step in this process, if we are God’s ‘humble servants’, as opposed to proud and disobedient rebels against him. 

The reference to God’s ‘holy inspiration’ here can be seen, of course, as a generic reference to God’s grace and ‘merciful guiding’, and therefore as one of a great many synonyms for grace found in the collects.  As Whitsunday draws near, however, the Sunday propers increasingly look towards that day.  Pentecost is the supreme spring of God’s ‘holy inspiration’, and it is surely appropriate to see the phrase here as a subtle anticipation of the approaching feast. 

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